Happy Halloween!!

Yep. It’s October 31st and time for all your little spooks and goblins to go out trick-or-treating.

But whether you have little ones or not, do you do something special for Halloween? Decorate the outside of your house for a neighborhood contest? Participate in a school carnival or trunk-or-treating? Take your children to the mall for some fun but super safe festivities? Or simply stay home, waiting for the kids to come to your door?

When we lived in Austin, our house had a long, narrow entryway. The first year there we turned out all the lights in the living room, had a small lit candelabra on a TV tray with the candy bowl next to the door and had spooky sounds playing in the background. I wore a floor-length black dress and I guess I resembled a witch with my straight, almost waist length blond hair. (No pointy hat, though.)

Most of the kids got a real kick out of it with several coming back more than once. But one poor little girl went running back to her mama, crying. I didn’t even say, “Boo!” To make it up to her, I sent candy to her mom via another child. I really felt bad for scaring her when I didn’t mean to. Now we live too far out of town for anyone to come to our house and I really miss it. No more dressing up. {pout} But that year was sure fun!

So do you have anything planned for tonight? Cough it up. I want to know what’s going on at your house. Need a good witch to answer your door for you? 😉

Linda Trout (the ole’ witchy, witch)

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Euphoria

eu·pho·ri·a:  yoo-fawr-ee-uh.  noun

a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.
–dictionary.com

I finished the current manuscript!

As I write this, I am comatose. Within 24 hours, I will be euphoric. Somebody famous once said that while writing’s usually not fun (there’s that whole opening-a-vein stuff), nothing feels so good as having written. And nothing feels so good as having finished a book. Add in ahead of deadline, and you’ve got a real case of happy feet.

Now it’s time to relax . . . for a little bit. To let my brain refill with words. To switch gears from those characters and their happily-ever-after to the next set of characters and their own HEA. To do enough mundane stuff like house work and yard work to remind myself that I’m a much better writer than I am a housekeeper or yard girl.

I’m going to enjoy the heck out of the euphoria while it lasts, because it’ll take me at least three months to get back to it again.

Refresh and Renew

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Have you noticed, no matter what time of year it is, there’s always something to keep you from writing? Either a job, a volunteer job (which is often more work than a paying one), family, holidays or something. 

I have to tell you, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, too much will keep you from finishing your book, and if you’re depending on the $$ from sales to eat and it takes too long, you’ll starve. 🙂 But if you don’t take some time off, your work will grow stale.

What’s the best kind of thing to do to keep your creative self alive? Well, each person has to figure that out for herself, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Visit a museum. For me, it’s best to visit when a special activity is going on. Such as Philbrook Museum’s Festival of Trees.

http://youtu.be/d5vYVI5ViiU

  • Take a class and learn to do something you’ve always been curious about but haven’t taken time to learn.
  • Browse through a bookstore in a section you don’t normally see.
  • Go to a movie. One that’s not a normal-for-you show. (If you love romances, try a paranormal. Or a children’s show.)
  • Visit a tourist town you haven’t been to lately, such as New Orleans, Colorado Springs or Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
  • Go to a play–high school or professional–and enjoy it.
  • Take a vacation to an island or another state. Fill your mind with fun times and leave the writing for later.
  • Sign up for belly, tap or ball room dancing.

The secret is to refresh your life without letting your excitement for the new activity take too much of your work time.

I’ve read that an author should have a “date” every week or so. I’m not sure taking one that often is necessary, but it is important to have time off. Whatever is right for you.

We all need a new perspective from time to time.

God gave us life. Why not enjoy it?

Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Moriyama, Knupp and Wind

Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat

Naomi Moriyama

♥♥♥

I enjoyed the recipes available in this book. I believe changing to food from these recipes twice a week would help overweight Americans. When menopause hits, even Japanese women can get broad of the beam. With that said, Westerners reading the recipes with an interest toward cutting back can find menu ideas. Note: Breakfast is the biggest meal.

 Several reviewers who have lived in Japan agree with my foreign student experience. They were not exposed to as much sugar as I ate during childhood. Consequently, in private it was not uncommon to see petite females inhale sweets at lightning speeds. We fixed homemade candy. They stuffed it in faster than we could make it.

Before making a major lifestyle change, do some more reading. It is a well written book.

The Boy Next Door

Amy Knupp

♥♥♥♥

An up and coming Kansas writer, Amy Knupp ratchets up tension just having Zach Rundle, a young neighbor, climb a tree to reach the second story where Lindsay Salinger is sleeping as she cares for her ailing father. The descriptive made words more than just words.

These longtime neighbors have ignored each other since Zach’s drunken brother killed Mrs. Salinger on impact in a neighborhood car crash while Lindsay drove. Lindsay has survivor’s guilt.

These two have long been attracted. Zach left the taint of being a Rundle behind and has made a good career in Wichita construction. Lindsay’s work makes her notice Zach’s young nephew in the sole care of the elderly great grandma. Lindsay works for something like Child Welfare for the state. She tries to get the boy’s irresponsible father to bond with his son. She fails. Then she goes to work on Zach to step up while he still believes his grandmother is up to caring for the little boy.

Watching the emotional growth of all the characters throughout the book evolve in subtle and more obvious ways made this an interesting character study.

Meant to be Married

Ruth Wind

♥♥♥♥♥

A multigenerational feud between two once wealthy families re-ignites every generation or so. The most recent start-crossed lovers, Elias Santiagos and Sarah Greenwood, lose their first chance at love. It costs both of them more than the other knows. Their families are both proud. His family is not pleased with Sarah’s return to Taos, New Mexico over a decade later.

Her father’s illness draws her home to try and make amends for their over decade long breach.

Elias and Sarah have an interesting book which pulls the reader into their angst. Yet the reader feels that special once in a lifetime deep love some are lucky enough to find in their youth.

Sarah has survived by removing all long buried anguish and numbing her mind (dissociative disorder for the severe trauma which overwhelms people). Her coping methods don’t work once she is pulled between two proud men–her true love and her father. One thing which helps her is herbal tea provided by Elias’ grandmother. The woman gives her both the chance to rest and sleep well despite the stress. Her guidance sparks Sarah find her own healing. Elias finds he can grieve his losses to heal.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

A Testimonial

In case you haven’t read all my posts, I’m going to confess to being something of a whiner. That’s right. I’ll own it. I’m a big baby. When I’m upset, there’s carping and complaining. Those who love me and listen are long suffering. Really.

For the past couple of weeks, my laptop has been dying.  A long, slow death.  I love that machine.  I got it as a birthday present.  Sure, it’s way too heavy… more luggable than portable, but still!  It has all my stuff on it.  And it starts overheating.  And I begin to get the ‘blue screen of death’–and who’s seen that since the mid 90’s?  So, I know the end is near.  Do I panic?  No.  My DH and I go to the local mall to an electronics store that has good deals and buy a new one.  It’s cheaper, lighter and has more capacity.  Now for the true test.

Restoring the data.

When I bought my last laptop, I spent hours and hours restoring data that was burned to CDs from the older machine.  What I didn’t know when I was making those backups was that the default attribute for a file burned to CD is ‘read only’.  That meant every single document had to be clicked on and the attribute changed for it to be editable.  What a nightmare.  I’m sure that little house in California is still ringing with the echos of my sailor speak.  At the end of that debacle, I subscribed to an online backup tool called Carbonite.  This software promises to back up your files and then keep track when you put new stuff out there and back it up.  When you change something, it notices and backs it up.  As long as you have internet connectivity, it’s done as a background operation.  When you are not connected, it keeps track of what changes and when you do connect, it backs it up.  That’s what I wanted, a backup I didn’t have to think about.  So I subscribed.

I’ve used this laptop exclusively for three years.  The whole time, Carbonite has been keeping me backed up.

I got home with the cheaper, lighter laptop and opened an Internet browser window, logged on to Carbonite and selected a full restore.  Then I stepped away and watched.  Really I panicked.  You know how on those file copy windows, you’ll get a time message?  This restore said “a few days”.  For real.  I almost screamed.  So, I walked away.  What else was I going to do?  I opened up the old laptop on the kitchen counter (the granite seems to help as a heat sink and it doesn’t overheat as much) and played an audio book and quilted.  In the time my laptop was restoring, I did the top for a king sized quilt.  “Few Days” = three days and nights.

Yesterday afternoon, it completed.  This morning, I picked up the new machine and started downloading the software that I use: iTunes, Picasa, Trillian.  Then I started looking around.  When I opened the newly downloaded Picasa, ALL my pictures were there.  All the folders and organization was there.  When I opened iTunes, all my audio books were present and accounted for.  All of them.

So even though Carbonite took days to complete the restore, and I never expected that kind of time, it worked like a champ.  You know that old insurance commercial that ends with “like it never happened?”  That’s what this shift from old computer to new feels like.  I’m sure I will spend several more hours finding things I need and downloading software, but my stuff is all here and accounted for.

Bless you Carbonite programmers.  Best $65 I ever spent.  So, a problem that would have made me whine and complain for weeks on end is solved quickly and efficiently.  I’m pretty sure DH is as glad as I am.  Now, he doesn’t have to listen to me carp.

–Sandee Wagner

DOES SEX MATTER IN ROMANCE?

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. The sex I’m talking about is GENDER. As you know, I’ve been downloading a lot of books into my Kindle and I discovered I have a predjudice. I tend to avoid romances written by a man.

Totally crazy since I’ve met several men who are romance authors. Heck, Harold Lowery who writes western historical romances as Leigh Greenwood is one of my favorite authors. So what makes me think a man can’t write good romance? I think it’s tied up in social sterotypes. Men can’t write emotions; women can’t write action.

Do you know why Andre Norton, the famous SF author, didn’t use her name Alice on her books? Because when she started, publishers felt that their readers wouldn’t buy SF from a women. Of course, this was back in the 1930s and times have changed. When I was a young SF writer, I have to admit the only female author I knowingly read was Anne MacCaffery. And as a staunch women’s libber, I find myself embarrased to realize that I was gender-identifying authors.

So, my new vow to myself is that I will only read the blurb just as I do with all books and never mind the author’s gender. I accept that today’s male is more able to touch on his emotions just as a female author can write space opera. I think we all can agree anyone can write fantasy; after all, none of us gave up fairy tales.

How about you? Are you more likely to considere the gender of the author on the different genres of books?

Advice For Newbies

If I could give advice to new writers it would be: Not every word  you write will be golden, nor will all your stories be sellable .  I was lucky to have Marilyn as a critique partner early, so I have her to thank. And while everything you write may not make a slush pile, you will learn and grow in your craft. As long as you listen and accept what others who know more take the time to give.

What advice would you give a new writer?